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Southern California Home Sales Rise on Investor Purchases

Southern California home sales jumped 8.4 percent last month from a year earlier as a record number of investors made purchases, according to DataQuick.

House and condominium transactions totaled 15,573 in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties, up 7.2 percent from January, the San Diego-based data firm said today in a statement. Last month’s sales were the highest for a February in five years.

Sales were driven up by absentee buyers -- mostly investors -- who purchased almost 30 percent of homes sold last month, and cash buyers, who accounted for almost 33 percent of transactions. Both numbers were records, DataQuick said. Shoppers continued to find bargains with foreclosed homes and short sales, where the price is less the amount owed, John Walsh, DataQuick’s president, said in the statement.

“The big picture remains one where the bottom of the housing market continues to see much of the action,” Walsh said. “Financing is still difficult for many, and lots of potential move-up buyers and sellers are stuck because they owe more than their homes are worth.”

Distressed properties accounted for more than half of the region’s sales, pushing prices down 3.7 percent from February 2010 to a median $264,750. It was the 12th straight decline on a year-over-year basis. Prices rose 1.8 percent from January, DataQuick said.

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